Monday, May 28, 2012

The Science of Yoga by William J Broad; Part V Healing

So you've injured yourself doing yoga as predicted in Chapter IV: Risk of Injury.  Or maybe you've injured yourself somewhere else.  At any rate, you are hurt and it's not getting better.  Why not try yoga as therapy? 
If you can avoid the quacks and find a legitimate yoga therapist that is...

This fifth chapter discusses using yoga as a means to heal the body after injury, to assist in healing oseoporosis, at fighting the stiffness caused by arthritis, and many other physical ailments.  But there is a dark side to this prescription (which should come as no surprise to the reader at this point) in the distinct lack of qualified yoga therapists.  Just as with the teacher training programs that have become the mainstay of nearly every studio, yoga therapy is croping up everywhere and often these people do not have the experience behind the certificate. 

This chapter looked at that more so than the whole teacher training phenomenon, and perhaps it is because of the nature of the "prescribing" of yoga as alternative therapy that this raises so many red flags.  Broad discusses the nuances of a "yoga teacher" calling themselves a "yoga therapist" to distinguish themselves in some way or to enhance an existing degree. 

Yoga Alliance, one of the largests corporations that certifies yoga teachers, allows for the use of the term Registered Yoga Teacher or RYT (either a 200 hour or a 500 hour training program) once a person has completed a certified program.  However, what the industry is seeing is Registered Yoga Teacher is morphing, in some cases, into Register Yoga Therapist.   The two are mutually exclusive terms and qualifications. 

As of today, Yoga Alliance has not expanded it's registry to include Yoga Therapist.  There is a separate International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Broad states: "...the continuing lack of regulation and the hundreds of false claims that aspiring healers make about their credentials are helping fuel the fields rapid growth....Dozens of books hail yoga therapy as a sound treatment for most every kind of ailment - including cancer and AIDS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.... The surger is creating not only a lively commerce but, as the last chapter showed, a threat, since yoga in unskilled hands can bear risk of serious injury.  Patients can get hurt."  (pg 153).

Which is kinda scary when Broad goes on to point out, "In 2008, Yoga Journal released a market study done by Harris Interactive.  The survey of more than 5,000 people - a sample large enough to be considered statistically representative of the entire population of the US - showed that yoga therapy had achieved wide acceptance among patients and, arugably more important, among the nations health-care providers." (pg 154)

Oh goodie!  So when I hurt myself doing yoga, I can be prescribed yoga therapy for my recovery, and when I hurt myself doing that, at least I'm covered by insurance....

Okay, maybe a bit harsh, but with elements of truth in it.  Overall this was a pretty good chapter, driving home the point that if you do agree to or opt for yoga therapy, maybe you should do some research before signing up, or at the very least, ask some pointed questions about experience and background.

1 comment:

prairiediva said...

I'm a new yoga blogger and you are so right; there are many topics about and around yoga. Liked this article on yoga therapy for injuries. had to giggle at your remark on using it for a yoga injury.